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Monday, January 12, 2015

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord: 17 Years on, CHT land rights still not settled, U-turn by the government

The Daily Star, 2 December 2014

Peace Accord: 17 Years on
CHT land rights still not settled
Land commission amendment bill not passed in 13 years; hill people losing land

Pinaki Roy

Nearly two decades since the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, the government is nowhere near ensuring the land rights of the hill people. A key provision of the 1997 accord is to give back their land taken away from them by government and non-government actors, but it is a right that exists only on paper.

In all, some one lakh indigenous families in the three hill districts -- Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari -- had lost all or some of their lands. Of them, around 90,000 families were locally displaced during insurgency and nearly 10,000 are refugee families repatriated from India following the deal. They have yet to get back their lands. The repatriated families totalled 12,212.

Over the years, different government agencies and Bangalee settlers have occupied the homesteads and agro lands that once belonged to the Jumma people. The local administration has also leased out hundreds of acres of land to different individuals and businesses.

Indigenous leaders say the government has been dragging its feet over amending the relevant law that will empower the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission to ensure indigenous people's land rights.

“Land is the most important issue for the indigenous people. But the government is purposefully dilly-dallying over resolving the matter,” said Mangal Kumar Chakma, publication secretary of the Parbtya Chattagram Jana Sanghaty Samity (PCJSS), which signed the peace accord with the government. Instead of settling the issue, different government agencies have also continued to occupy their land, he alleged.

In 2011 alone, at least 7,118 acres of land belonging to indigenous people were grabbed by Bangalee settlers in the three hill districts, according to a 2012 report of Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST).

The ruling Awami League was in power when the deal was signed. Since then, the party has formed two more governments in 2008 and in January this year. But it has done little so far to amend the CHT Land Commission Amendment Bill 2001.

Once passed, the law will solve the issues of land ownership and land management. But the government has shelved the bill for all these years, said Mangal Chakma. Moreover, the government is now set to pass some laws that will go against the spirit of the peace accord itself, alleged other indigenous leaders.

Asked about the status of the amendment bill, chief of the House body on the land ministry Rezaul Karim Hira said he was not aware of it. The previous parliament had sent the bill to the relevant committee for scrutiny.

Under the rules, the House cannot pass any bill placed in the previous parliament. This means, the bill will have to be brought before parliament afresh. Against this backdrop, PCJSS President Santu Larma has said they would start a non-cooperation movement from May 1 next year if the treaty is not implemented by then.


According to the Land Revenue Administration Report of 1965-66, there were 32,59,520 acres of land in the CHT. Fifty-one percent of them were declared reserve forest. Of the rest 49 percent, only 1,30,000 acres were cropland, of which 54,000 acres (40 percent) were submerged due to the Kaptai dam, constructed for hydropower project in the 1960s in Rangamati.

The project displaced about a third of the indigenous population in the district, which was the key reason for the armed conflicts in the hills. As the indigenous people started to target the security forces in the late 1970s, the government took up a programme to drastically increase Bangalee settlements there in efforts to weaken insurgency.

From 1979 to 1985, some 80,000 families from the plains were brought to the hills. Each of these families was given about 10 acres of croplands and hilly lands, indigenous leaders claim.
Most of these lands belonged to the indigenous people, suggest different studies.


The government claims it has implemented at least 48 of the 72 peace pact provisions fully and 15 partially while implementation of nine other provisions are underway.

“I would say 95 percent provisions of the peace accord have been implemented. The government is working to implement the rest within the shortest possible time,” said Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, chief of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry.

Contacted, Naba Bikram Tripura, secretary of the ministry, said implementation of the treaty was an ongoing process. He said the ministry held a meeting yesterday on the amendment bill.
CHT Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, Santu Larma, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Adviser Gowher Rizvi and the secretary, among others, attended the meeting.

The CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act was passed in 2001. So far, six such commissions have been formed, but none has been functional due to legal tangles.

Published: 12:02 am Tuesday, December 02, 2014
The Daily Star, 2 December 2014

Implementation of CHT Accord
U-turn by the government
Mangal Kumar Chakma

THIS year marks the passing of 17 years since signing of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord, 1997 on December 2, 1997, between the Government of Bangladesh and PCJSS. Since assuming power in 2009, the Awami League-led grand alliance has not taken any step that is worth mentioning towards implementation of the core issues of the Accord.
The Awami League government (1996-2001) initially implemented a few provisions of the CHT Accord. Among them are passing of CHTRC Act and three HDC Acts in 1998, establishment of CHT Affairs Ministry, repatriation of Jumma refugees from India, and withdrawal of around 66 temporary camps (though the government claimed withdrawal of 172 camps). However, the main issues, such as preservation of tribe-inhabited feature/status of the region; introduction of special governance system in CHT with CHTRC and HDCs and devolution of powers and functions to them; resolution of land disputes; demilitarisation, etc. are yet to be implemented.

The government, including the prime minister, has been claiming that altogether 48 out of 72 sections of the CHT Accord have been implemented in the meantime and 15 sections out of the rest have been partially implemented while the remaining 9 sections are under implementation process. This is not fully accurate. As per observation of PCJSS, only 25 sections out of 72 sections of the CHT Accord have been implemented so far. Thirty four sections of the Accord still remain totally unimplemented while 13 sections have been partially implemented. This means that two-third of the sections of the Accord have been unimplemented as of this day.

For instance, analysis of Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 under Part-A of the Accord, which the government says have already been implemented, disproves the government's claim. Section-1 of the Accord stipulates: ”Both the parties, having considered the CHT region as a tribe-inhabited region, recognised the need of preserving special features of this region and attaining the overall development thereof.” But this aspect still remains confined to the papers. No legal or effective safeguard measures have so far been taken to preserve or restore the tribe-inhabited feature of the region. No office order, directive or notification to that effect has been passed by the government. As a result, unabated migration of outsiders into CHT is taking place through different ways and means, which has led to the loss of the very tribal-inhabited feature of the region.

The government, on the one hand, has been dilly-dallying in implementing the core issues of the CHT Accord, while formulating anti-accord laws and programmes on the other. For instance, without holding elections in the three HDCs and CHTRC and contrary to the opinion of the CHT people, the government, on November 23, 2014, amended three HDC Acts by increasing the numerical strength of the members of three interim HDCs from 5 to 15, including the chairman. Before signing of the CHT Accord, though the tenure of HDCs had already expired, the successive governments did not take any initiative to hold elections for these councils during the last 22 years. No initiative has yet been undertaken to formulate Election Rules of chairmen and members of the HDCs and Electoral Roll Rules for the purpose. The 5-member interim HDCs formed with the ruling party members have been functioning in an undemocratic way. In fact, these nominated interim HDCs work without any obligation and accountability to the people. Instead of holding elections for these institutions, the government has recently amended the laws of these councils to run the HDCs in an unfair manner. The main objective of making amendments to the three HDC Acts seems to be to by-pass the elections for the CHT institutions and deprive the CHT people from their political rights to franchise and access to representation and, above all, to shelve the implementation of the CHT Accord tactfully.

Unlike prompt amendment of three HDC Acts, which was made within six months, amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 has been kept pending for 13 years, including 6 years of the grand alliance government. This law was passed in 2001 without consultation with or advice from CHTRC, hence, several issues contravening CHT Accord were included in it. When the present government was formed in January 2009, the CHTRC once again sent its recommendations to it for bringing amendment to this law. After a series of meetings, CHT Affairs Ministry, in consultation with CHTRC, finalised 13-point amendment proposals for amendment of the Act, which was also endorsed by CHT Accord Implementation Committee. But the government has been delaying in amending the law as per the 13-point recommendations. Due to non-resolution of land-related disputes in the CHT, ethnic conflicts and forcible occupation of lands belonging to the indigenous Jummas continue.

The prompt amendment of HDC Acts on one hand and delay in amendment of Land Commission Act year after year on the other, make it look as if the government is not sincere about implementing the Accord fully. While CHTRC Complex Project has been kept pending ever since the formation of the apex body of CHT special administrative setup in 1999, the selection of sites for establishing medical college and science and technology unversity is another instance of the government's confusing policy in implementing the CHT Accord. The government is keen to rehabilitate the poor people through Ashrayan Project in CHT while measures for rehabilitation of internally displaced Jumma families have not been taken in the last 17 years, though it is one of the obligations stipulated in the CHT Accord.

In fact, there cannot be any alternative to implementation of CHT Accord for ensuring proper political solution to the longstanding crisis and establishing peace in CHT. CHT people urge the government for a speedy resolution by drawing up a time-bound roadmap of the implementation process of the Accord in order to ascertain good governance and pro-people and environmentally balanced development in CHT, thereby ensuring peace and all-round development in the region.

The writer is Information and Publicity Secretary of PCJSS.

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, December 02, 2014


More article in Bangla:

Daily Prothom Alo: http://www.prothom-alo.com/opinion/article/386203/%E0%A6%AE%E0%A7%82%E0%A6%B2-%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%B8%E0%A7%8D%E0%A6%AF%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%A7%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%A8-%E0%A6%B9%E0%A6%AF%E0%A6%BC%E0%A6%A8%E0%A6%BF-%E0%A7%A7%E0%A7%AD-%E0%A6%AC%E0%A6%9B%E0%A6%B0%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%93

Daily Samakal: http://www.samakal.net/2014/12/02/102140


CHTC concerned over the failure to fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) has expressed concern over the Government’s lack of political will leading to the failure of full implementation of the CHT Accord 17 years after its signing. The CHTC has called upon the Government to urgently adopt and enforce a roadmap with clear milestones for implementation of the Accord ensuring full participation of all stakeholders.

PCJSS press conference on implementation of CHT Accord marking 17th anniversary of CHT Accord

On 29 November 2014 Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) organised press conference on implementation of CHT Accord on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of CHT Accord in Dhaka. President of PCJSS, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma read out written statement of PCJSS. Senior leader Pankaj Bhattacharya, president of Oikya NAP; Ushatun Talukder, MP and vice president of PCJSS; Rabindranath Soren, president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad; Numan Ahmed Khan, executive director of Institute of Environment and Development, advocate Neelufar Banu, among others, attended the press conference.
In his written statement, J B Larma said that many ministers and bureaucrats including the Prime Minister have been propagating that 48 sections out of 72 sections of the Accord have been implemented in the mean time and 15 sections out of the rest have been partially implemented while the remaining 9 sections are under implementation process. In fact, the said statement or report made by the government on implementation of the CHT Accord is not true as a whole. As per the study of PCJSS, only 25 sections out of 72 sections of the Accord have been implemented. There are 34 sections of the Accord still remain unimplemented while 13 sections of the Accord have been partially implemented. It means that two-third sections of the Accord are lying unimplemented as of this day.
He also added that instead of undertaking initiative to implement the unimplemented significant issues of the Accord, in opposite turn, the government, having the Accord violated and trampled the legal provisions that oblige the government to consult with the CHT Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils in framing up laws on CHT or the laws applicable to CHT, has stepped up unilateral initiative to amend the Hill District Council Act and frame up CHT Development Board Act and establishing Science & Technology University and Medical College in Ranngamati.
He opined that CHT crisis is a national and political problem. In fact, the CHT Accord was signed in greater interest of the country and hence, the duties and responsibilities of the government is primary in the implementation of the Accord. In this circumstances, he called upon the government to undertake timeline-based initiative to implement the unimplemented issues of the Accord without delay any further. Otherwise, the government will have to responsible for any sort of undesireable situation in CHT. With this, he declared that ― “If the government does not undertake time-line-based effective initiative within 30 April 2015, as such, from 1 May 2015 ‒ (1) Non-cooperation movement against the government will be commenced under PCJSS leadership and (2) All out resistance movement against Anti-Accord and counter-Jumma-interest programs will be accelerated”.
Rallies, mass gatherings and discussion meetings  are going to be held at Upazila and District levels in CHT including Dhaka and Chittagong at PCJSS initiative on the occasion of the 17th Anniversary of CHT Accord.

Non-implementation may reignite unrest, speakers tell CHT Commission & Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network discussion

Non-implementation may reignite unrest
Speakers tell CHT Commission, Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network discussion

Staff Correspondent

The government should ensure the full implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, 1997 before frustration among the indigenous community leads to unrest and instability in the region again, speakers told a discussion yesterday.

“My only urge to the policymakers and government is please implement the CHT accord in its full content and essence before it is too late,” said Prof Mizanur Rahman, chairman, National Human Rights Commission.

The discussion, “Marginalization and Impunity: Violence Against Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts”, was organised by International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) and Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network (BIWN) in the capital's Chhayanaut Sangskriti Bhaban.

The full implementation is crucial in ensuring security of indigenous women and ending impunity currently enjoyed by perpetrators of violence, the speakers noted.

Chanchana Chakma, general secretary of BIWN, presented excerpts from a CHTC report which showed how from 1976 onwards militarisation and the state's transmigration programmes to settle Bangalees in the three southeast hill districts created tension and led to the two-decade-long armed struggle of indigenous people against the state. The treaty ended the armed struggle but hill women continued to be targeted in clashes between Bangalees and the indigenous community, the report mentioned. The report presented case studies of violence from 2011-2012, showing how the culture of impunity prevailed in the regions starting with the unsolved case of indigenous leader Kalpana Chakma's enforced disappearance in 1996.

KS Mong, member, Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, stated how women were often abducted, forced to convert and marry Bangalee men to intimidate the indigenous community, who were forced to move away to remote areas for security. Noting that land was the major issue of conflict in CHT, Mong stressed the need for an effective land commission. “If the situation continues to be such, we would either announce and leave the country and take refuge in India or Myanmar or began preparing ourselves for resistance again,” he said.

Besides the treaty's implementation, the CHTC report also recommended establishment of a national commission of inquiry and committee to monitor violence against women in the CHT to end the culture of impunity. Employing mixed police force with more women police and sensitising them also came up from open discussions.

CHTC Co-Chairperson Sultana Kamal, members Khushi Kabir and Sara Hossain, Adviser Meghna Guhathakurta and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Ayesha Khanom also spoke.

On Saturday rights activists under the banner Nagorik Shomaj formed a human chain before Bangladesh National Museum demanding immediate election to the three CHT district councils.

“Undemocratic forces are becoming permanently rooted in the hill tracts as no election of the councils had taken place in 22 years,” said Oikya NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya, adding that CHT people have reasons to feel utterly betrayed.

The activists also criticised the government for mulling over increasing the number of zila parishad members from five to 11. “Increasing the size instead of holding an election clearly means that the government is doing this to politicise the CHT zila parishad with its chosen people,” said Prof Mesbah Kamal of history at Dhaka University.

Khushi Kabir, also coordinator of Nijera Kori; Sanjeeb Drong, secretary of the Bangladesh Forum for Indigenous People; Chanchana Chakma, also president of Hill Women's Federation; and Associate Prof Robaet Ferdous of Dhaka University also spoke.

Dhaka Tribune, November 24, 2014

‘Double discrimination’ against indigenous women
Abid Azad

According to Kapaeeng Foundation, an organisation working for protection of the rights of indigenous people, 19 cases of sexual violence were reported from January to April this year

Indigenous women and girls face “double discrimination” – first as women, then as indigenous, speakers said at a round-table held in the capital yesterday.

With International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women ahead, they said although the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was signed by the government 17 years ago, indigenous people, particularly the women, still live under the threat of various criminal acts frequently taking place in the region, while the culture of impunity and settlement of Bengalis have left them extremely vulnerable.

The observation came at a session titled: “Marginalisation and Impunity: Violence against Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,” organised by CHT Commission (CHTC) at the Ramesh Chandra Hall of Chhayanaut Bhaban.

Speakers claimed that the culture of impunity is so prevalent in the CHT areas that victims, despite suffering constant harassment, have lost interest in filing cases at the police station. According to Kapaeeng Foundation, an organisation working for protection of the rights of indigenous people, 19 cases of sexual violence were reported from January to April this year. Of them, two were killed after rape, nine were raped, seven fell victim of attempt to rape and one was abducted.

A total of 227 cases for violence against women in both the hilly areas and plain lands under CHT were filed in between 2007 and 2013. The forms included rape, gang rape, murder after rape, physical assault, attempt to rape, abduction, sexual harassment and human trafficking. Five rape incidents occurred in 2007 and the number rose three times higher last year. Many of these cases are not followed up, said the speakers.

Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network General Secretary Chanchana Chakma read out the keynote paper prepared by Dr Bina D’Costa, a peace and conflict specialist from the Australian National University.

The report emphasised that militarisation and transmigration (illegal settlement of Bengalis in the CHT) that started from 1976, generated extreme vulnerability and poverty in the region, grossly affecting the safety of women in CHT. Kalpana Chakma, former organising secretary of Hill Women’s Federation, who was allegedly abducted from her house by a military official and two members of the village defence party in 1996, is still missing.

“Still we do not see any development or any exemplary punishment to the culprits of similar cases,” said KS Mong, a member of CHT regional council. He also claimed that the present government, who signed the Peace Accord, has now lost the courage to implement it.

The paper suggested that the process to bring peace and stability in the CHT must begin with the demilitarisation of the region as stipulated in the 1997 CHT Peace Accord. The paper recommended the recruitment of an ombudsman to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to which NHRC Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman replied: “I disagree with the recommendation. Until I have the power to investigate, recruiting 10 ombudsmen would bring no benefits. First the government should grant more power to NHRC.”

CHTC Co-chairperson Sultana Kamal, member Khush Kabir and Sara Hossain, Adviser Meghna Guhathakurta, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam were present at the programme.

The Daily Observer, 24 November 2014

Rights activists for faster implementation of CHT accord
Special Correspondent

Publish Date : 2014-11-24, Publish Time : 00:00, View Count : 3

Rights activists have urged the policy makers to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) accord completely before it is too late. The culture of impunity discourage the indigenous people from raising their voice against the authorities, they observed.

They came up with the observation at a seminar on "violence against women and girls in the CHT" organised by CHT Commission (CHTC) at the Chayanat Bhaban in the capital on Sunday.
The seminar blamed that the militarisation and transmigration programmes have continued to settle illegally the landless Bangalees from the plain-lands in CHT that was initiated in 1976 by General Ziaur Rahman.

The settlement has created extreme vulnerability of and poverty to the adivasis and deeply affected adivasi girls' safety and security in the region. Rights activists who recently visited CHT were attacked in Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban under the very nose of the district administration and law enforcement agencies by the Bangalee settlers.

Not to anybody's surprise, the police were reluctant to register any complain of attacks on the rights groups, while the nonchalant authorities in Dhaka expressed their surprise over the civil administrations attitude in CHT hesitant to help the victims, the speakers told the seminar.

Dr Mizanur Rahman, chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said the commission have probed the incidents of attacks on the rights activists and have sent strong notes to relevant authorities with an advice to take legal action against perpetrators. Unfortunately the authorities have yet to respond to NHRC to this regards, lamented Dr Mizan. "Well I am still expecting a pro-active response from the authority on the attacks on the activists. NHRC have also failed to get any response regarding previous probe reports on murders, arsons and sexual violence's against the indigenous people by perpetrators," he said.

The seminar was presided by Advocate Sultana Kamal, co-chairperson of CHTC, while Ayesha Khanam of Mahila Parishad, Dr Mizanur Rahman, KS Mong, member of Bandarman CHT Regional Council, Khushi Kabir, Nijera Kori, Barrister Sara Hossain, BLAST and Chanchana Chamna, BIWN participated in the discussion, while Dr Meghna Guhathakurta moderated the seminar.

Sara Hossain described how the perpetrators of the attacks on the adivasis have been able to flex their muscles with blessings of political power and civil administrations. Even the local police officers face pressure from political and administrative high-ups not to proceed with the cases against the Bangalee settlers, she said.

A research paper "Marginalisation and Impunity: Violence Against Women and Girls in the CHT" by Bina D'Costa was presented at the seminar. The researcher recommends for sincere political will to bring peace and stability in the CHT must begin with the demilitarisation of the region as determined in 1997 CHT Accord. The research recommends voluntary resettlement of Bangalees who have illegally occupied lands that belong to the adivasis.

A sustainable gender-sensitive and gender-responsive development project combating the poverty and inequality of indigenous communities in the region must be endorsed, it was suggested.
Lastly, all stakeholders must recognise that the end of impunity is fundamental and urgent, and that without adequate, effective and impartial enforcement of relevant laws, violence against adivasi women and girls cannot be mitigated.

Daily Sun, 24 November 2014

Implement CHT peace accord soon
NHRC chairman urges govt

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Dr. Mizanur Rahman on Sunday urged the government to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord as early as possible, else the country will have to suffer, reports UNB.

“My earnest request to the government, please implement the CHT peace accord as early as possible. A stitch in time saves nine…” he said taking part at a roundtable on ‘Marginalization and Impunity: Violence against Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts’. The roundtable was arranged jointly by Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Commission and Adivasi Nari Network at Ramesh Chandra Hall of the Chayanaut Bhaban, Dhanmondi in the capital.

Dr Mizanur Rahman said the CHT peace accord would have to be implemented for peace and security of the entire country as well as for the people of the CHT. Expressing concern, he said: “Unless the accord is implemented immediately, political gridlock might break out in the hill tracts.“Chaired by CHT Commission co-chairman Sultana Kamal, the programme was also addressed by commission members and Khusi Kabir and barrister Sara Hossain, commission adviser Meghna Guhathakurta, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam and CHT regional council member KS Mong.

The Independent, 24 November 2014

‘Violence against women should get extra attention’

Author / Source: STAFF REPORTER

The cases of violence against women in the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) areas should get extra attention to end the culture of impunity, observed human rights activists at a roundtable discussion in the city.

Barrister Sara Hossain, executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) said, “Initially, different women rights organisations come forward for the cases of violence against women, but gradually they back away and the cases sink into oblivion with the course of time.” She added the close ones of the victims and even the victims receive threats constantly from the perpetrators of a crime after a case is filed.

Also, apathy among the law enforcers is one the major impediments too, he noted. That is why, the cases related to violence against women in the hill tracts need to be treated with extra attention, she opined.

While presenting the keynote paper, Chanchana Chakma, general secretary of BIWN (Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network) recommended strengthening the existing women right activists’ network, providing technical and financial support to enhance capacity building of the indigenous womenfolk, appointing an ombudsperson at National Human Rights Commission, sensitising the media, medical officials and the mass people regarding the issues, and training up the indigenous women regarding the legal process and ensuring their access to justice.

NHRC chairman Mizanur Rahman said, “The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord should be implemented before it is too late.”


Cancellation of Hill District Council Act bills demanded, the laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall

Cancellation of CHT districts council bills demanded

November 23, 2014
Staff Correspondent

National minority leaders, politicians, academics and right activists on Saturday demanded cancellation of three bills tabled in parliament for increasing to 11 from the existing five the number of interim members of the three hill district councils in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Addressing a human chain in front of National Museum, they said that the bills incorporated government ‘ill intention’ of keeping the hill districts under control of selected people without direct votes of national minorities in the region.

Khagrachari unit of Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad, however, at a human chain in Khagrachari town, demanded inclusion of seven Bengali people and one vice-chairman in CHT district councils as per ratio of the inhabitants in the proposed bills.

Th state minister for CHT affairs, Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, on July 1 tabled the Rangamati Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Khagrachari Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Bandarban Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014.

The bills proposed that the number of interim members of the hill district councils would be increased at 11 from the existing five including three non-tribal members.

The parliamentary standing committee on the CHT affairs ministry on November 17 recommended passage of the bills after scrutiny.

Although the laws stipulate that 34 members including the chairman of each of the hill district councils have to be elected, the government has so far taken no move for the elections, rather it is going to control the councils by increasing the number of selected interim members, the human chain in Dhaka was told.

The speakers said that the CHT affairs ministry did not discuss the matter with hill people including Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, Parbatya Chattagram Anchalik Parishad and the local lawmakers before placing the bills in the parliament.

Oikya NAP president Pankaj Bhattacharya said, ‘Elected members are needed for the proper functioning of the hill district councils…Mere increasing the number of interim members would neither ensure the accountability of the councils nor the councils would represent the hill people.’ He said the bills were a clear violation of the CHT Peace Accord.

‘The undemocratic forces would take a strong footing in the hills if the bills are passed,’ he said.

Parbatya Chattagram Anchalik Parishad member KS Mong said that the government was acting in a hostile attitude to hill people. ‘Government is forcing us to choose the way of blood-stained fighting,’ he said.

International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission member Khushi Kabir said that the government wanted to take over the hill districts under its control through the bills, ignoring the interests of the hill people.

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeev Drang said that the government was deceiving the hill people time and again but it was not implementing the CHT accord.

Journalist Abu Sayeed Khan, academics Mejbah Kamal, Rubaiyat Ferdous and Razib Mir, among others, also spoke.

Dhaka Tribune, 23 November 2014

Amendments to CHT district council laws opposed

Tribune Report

The laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall

Different organisations yesterday raised their voices against the three amendment bills produced in the parliament recently in connection to the district council governance of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

Under the banner of “Nagorik Samaj,” they formed a human chain in front of the National Museum in the capital demanding the immediate cancellation of the three proposed laws – Rangamati Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill, Khagrachhari Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill and Bandarban Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill.

They claimed that the proposed laws were a clear violation to the peace accord that was signed by Awami League and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti in 1997.

Oikko NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya said: “The government is violating the CHT Peace Treaty by proposing the three district council acts according to their whims.

It was clearly stated in the peace accord that the government must consult with the Ancholik Parishad [interim council] before amending any law in relation to them.”

The laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall, the speakers said.

They also demanded an immediate election to ensure local representatives in the CHT district council.

The original laws passed in 1989 had provisions for electing members of the district councils by direct popular votes.

Since then, only one election took place in 1989.

CHT commission member Khushi Kabir, Dhaka University History Prof Mesbah Kamal, Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjib Drong took part in the human chain.

Newsnextbd, Saturday, 22 November 2014

‘Withdraw CHT Zila Parishads Bill’

Saturday, 22 November 2014 23:40

Dhaka: Speakers at a human chain on Saturday alleged that the government has violated the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord through bringing three separate bills for three Zila Parishads of the region in Parliament.

RAM Muktadir Chwodhury, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs Ministry, on November 17 placed all the three reports on Rangamati Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014; Bandarban Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014; and, Khagrachhari Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014.

Addressing a civic group organized human chain in front of National Museum in the city in protest of the government move, speakers also urged the government to withdraw the bill and give election for electing representatives of the three Zila Parishads.

It was among others addressed by United National Awami Party (UNAP) president Pankaj Bhattacharya, rights activist Khusi Kabir, Prof Mesbah Kamal and Sanjeeb Drong, journalist Abu Sayeed Khan and Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous.

Pankaj said that as per the Peace Accord government is bound to consult with Regional Council for making any law relating CHT.

“But, government has brought the bill in parliament without doing so. This is an anti-people move and government is doing this to rehabilitate their party men in the region,” he added.

He observed that the government move may obstruct the process of implementation of the Peace Accord and urged the government to withdraw the bill.

Abu Sayeed Khan demanded democratic elections for electing Zila Parishad representatives in lieu of partisan appointment to the body.

Khusi Kabir alleged that government brought the bill to violate the rights of indigenous people of CHT.

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